21st Century Living
Spotlight on Care is an extraordinary podcast developed by the University of California at Irvine Mind Institute.
I was honored to participate in this podcast service very recently and provide it to you at this time. It is only 25 minutes long, a perfect length to grab your attention and then let you be on your way. If you know of a family caregiver who might also benefit, please share it with them.
Endurance in Action
Many of us of a certain age have endured much throughout our lives, both personally and historically. I have had the right to vote in the United States for fifty-two years. Let me tell you, I have witnessed my share of elections that didn’t go my way and somehow my country has managed to survive, which for some election cycles is really saying a lot. On the other hand, some election results pleased me to no end, allowing me to endure periods of time of seeming ease.
Residents of each country reading this post have faced monumental weather anomalies, financial hardships, and devastating illnesses. If you are reading this piece, you have made it through those disasters and perhaps have wondered how you made it! I’ll tell you right now, there are individual days wherein I have questioned my own ability to do so and yet I woke up every day-after able to call myself a survivor.
I will be seventy years old this week and I marvel at the fact that my body has rewarded me with daily breath for close to 25,500 days in a row. Astounding! And what about the heart? Given an average 100 beats per minute – at least at my age – that equates to 3,672,000,000 beats thus far in my lifetime! WHAT???!!! If that isn’t endurance, I don’t know what is! Thank you, precious heart of mine!
Now I will confess to you that I am a habitual catastrophic thinker (for me that means that I assume the worst rather than the best) so the stats I just gave you are vital tidbits of information I can now add to my evidence list that things are better than I might have assumed them to be. And perhaps such evidence will sufficiently encourage you to increase your own hope quotient so you can find the best, instead of the worst, going forward.
If that is the case, I am absolutely thrilled for you, and I’m thrilled for me as I grab my calculator to figure out how many breaths I’ve taken in the past 25,500 days and counting!
Be well. Stay well, y’all.
Aging Is A Privilege
It won’t be long now.
I’ve been waiting 10 years for this event.
I will have more to say next week.
Please come back then.
Beauty is NOT Skin Deep
True beauty exists in a person who is kind, giving, and loving.
Without a doubt, each person reading this post has encountered outwardly beautiful people who oozed ugliness. We have also witnessed the opposite to be true: the less-than-beautiful acting with extreme ugliness. Genuine beauty exists deep within the heart and the mind.
I’m not telling you anything new and I’m not going to go on and on about this subject other than to say:
Words and actions matter.
PLEASE MAKE YOURS COUNT AS I TRY TO MAKE MINE COUNT AS WELL.
Long Distance Caregivers
Any long distance caregivers out there?
How about family caregivers who live near their loved one?
This Spotlight on Care audio podcast, only 25 minutes in length, will encourage you greatly. I was the long distance caregiver for my father who died in 2007 from Alzheimer’s disease. This recent podcast produced by the University of California at Irvine MIND institute provides a snippet of how I succeeded, or failed, in my efforts to make my father’s experience as carefree as possible. I was just like you: figuring it out as I went along, picking and choosing methods that might help both my and my father’s experience. Looking back, I can celebrate that I did my best, and that’s all that matters.
Doing your best doesn’t demand perfection, just your best.
Hungry For Connection
I recently completed a guided meditation on loneliness where it was suggested that hunger and loneliness are spurred on by the same need in a person’s brain. When our tummy tells our brain it needs nourishment, we act on that need, but do we act on our need for connection when we’re lonely?
Like many of you, my yearning for connection grew by leaps and bounds the past three years. With very little recourse, my personal world became smaller and smaller, and although my husband is great company day-in and day-out (for over 23 years now) I still craved interaction with others. Then the world opened up and doing something and going somewhere finally became an option.
But I was still lonely and didn’t know how to satisfy that hunger.
I have very few friends nearby. It seems once a person no longer goes to work each day, exhausts their desirous volunteer activities, and their neighbors move away, there are fewer opportunities to make healthy connections. I have a literal ache to make friends and spend quality time with them. I am happy to say that for the past three months, I have found that connection at a weekly class offered by the city in which I live.
The class is a combination of Tai Chi with the healthy addition of maintaining physical balance in ones’ later years. I turn seventy years old next month so it stands to reason that seeking better balance would be high on my priority list. I am receiving the benefits of such exercise with the added benefit of meeting new people and spending time with them. The twenty students in the class are all of a certain age, the youngest being 50 and the oldest appears to be in their 80s.
None of us students have perfected the art of Tai Chi. We will no doubt never reach the perfection of form demonstrated by our teacher Julie, but as she emphasizes each and every class session, “You do you” and that is exactly what I am doing.
The need to connect is still there. There are some deeper connections in the class I hope to make. But if I hadn’t sought that initial connection, the possibility of gaining a deeper connection would have no chance of happening. I guess a good way of summing up matters is to say that if I hadn’t done my part, I would still be as isolated as I was before, and suffering the same mental health deficit I felt at the beginning of this year. As Yoda of Star Wars movie franchise fame so succinctly said:
“Do or do not. There is no try.”
If you don’t set a goal, you’ll never reach it. If you don’t ask, you’ll never receive. We only have one life to live. Please don’t let it expire without your participation.
You do you.
The Suck of Procrastination
Putting off matters is such a common experience for all of us. Speaking for myself, I usually adopt that avoidance behavior when I lack the confidence needed to master the task at hand. It helps to have a deadline but when that deadline is a generous one, chances are attention will be diverted for quite some time.
FOR EXAMPLE: I had 3 years in which to file our amended 2022 tax return.
I thought I had absolutely every form needed to file last year’s taxes and was quite proud of myself for electronically submitting my household’s return using the tax prep software I have used for many, many years. I mean, it was the end of February so any entity that was slated to send me a form would have already done so…right?
Wouldn’t you know it, an errant form from a country other than the United States arrived shortly thereafter which most definitely created the need to file an amended return for the first time in my entire almost 70 years of life.
I researched it. I looked for every possible legal loophole to not have to go down that path, but I discovered there was no way to avoid the dreaded amended tax return process. But I had three years in which to do so, so why rush?
Because the manila folder on my desk containing the 2022 tax files kept mocking me each time I walked past it.
Given the fact that I’m retired and have all the time in the world to travel down the path of tax return hell, I couldn’t even claim busyness to avoid opening up my 2022 electronic file and diving right in. I absolutely knew that the tax prep software would hold my hand through the process but I still took comfort in the fact that I had plenty of time to get ‘er done so why add stress to my somewhat calm life if I didn’t need to?
Because I needed to eliminate the fear that had subconsciously been keeping me awake at night.
On April 5th, 2023, I tackled the software, only to find that it did indeed walk me through the process, and the anticipated pain was minimal at best. Sure, we ended up owing the IRS some money, but the peace of mind experienced having finally stored that manila folder in the file cabinet was worth every penny electronically deposited into the IRS’s bank account.
Both of my novels address the impermanence of life, while also addressing how difficult some situations can be when we’re fully enmeshed in them. Requiem for the Status Quo speaks of the difficulties of a dementia diagnosis on the patient and on the family members who care for her/him, while A Jagged Journey exposes the reader to life with all its catastrophic imperfections. Both novels also shine a spotlight on the fact that bad times don’t stick around forever.
The good news and the bad news of impermanence in these situations is that we have to accept that along with being in favor of bad times not hanging around forever, we have to acknowledge and even accept that good times are subject to the same fleeting characteristic.
Take comfort in knowing, however, that tomorrow – or the next hour – may reward you greatly.
What has been your experience surrounding such opposites as appear in our lives?
How Are You Today?
The only thing I want to say is that:
You are enough.
You are worthy.
Any difficulties you are currently experiencing will get better in time because…
Nothing is permanent.
Be well. Get well. Stay well.
Compassion and Forgiveness
I learned something very important the other day.
I’ve read lots of articles and listened to numerous podcasts the past few years wherein self-forgiveness and self-compassion are talked about at length. Intellectually, I understood the concept but my heart didn’t catch up until a few days ago so that the IMPORTANT understanding could settle in.
Self-forgiveness is not dependent on rectifying a past action or mistake.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Well, duh – you can’t change the past” but believe me, my previous inability to forgive myself was based on wishing I could change the past and because I could not, forgiveness was not possible. Had a friend experienced a similar faux pas as me, would I castigate her? Would I shame her? No, I would not, so why be a jerk to myself?
I have finally forgiven myself for previously unforgivable mistakes – the ones that still pricked my conscience – and I have become a free woman where those matters are concerned.
My shoulders and my heart have been relieved of a VERY heavy burden.
It’s Now or Never
AND LET ME TELL YOU…I KNOW OF WHAT I SPEAK.
My sister, Mary, was born 8 months before me; my parents adopted her after my mother suffered three miscarriages. As sometimes happens, before the ink was dry on the adoption papers, my mother became pregnant with me. Yay me!!!
Suffice to say, being so close in age, my sister and I grew up together with the same experiences and oftentimes the same friends. We are still very close, even though we don’t live in the same state.
Several years ago, after our mother and father had passed away, my sister located her birth mother, met her, and had a few occasions to get together with her and her other daughters, even though her birth mother lived in eastern Canada and my sister resides in California.
Because I erroneously believed I would have all the time in the world to write a letter to and further communicate with my sister’s biological mother to thank her for placing my sister up for adoption, I missed out on that opportunity because Cathy died a few years after my sister first connected with her.
Cathy’s decision to provide the best possible home for my sister was an extraordinary gift for which I wanted to express my gratitude, but I procrastinated and never told Cathy what a blessing her first daughter is to me. In my recent history, this by far is the biggest regret I harbor in my heart.
Kind words left unsaid benefit no one.
Evidently, the Egyptians were one of the first civilizations to invent writing. It looks as though their characterizations on stone are being repeated in the 21st century with varying emojis depicting anything from a pile of something we would prefer not to step in, to a happy face that makes everyone within its purview HAPPY as a result!
Many of us grew up with clear instructions on how to firstly, pencil individual printed letters to perfection, then we graduated to a stylus of sorts and carefully curved those same letters into cursive form – a form that appears to have become a lost art for far too many people whose primary mode of “writing” is texting. And because texting has become a primary mode of correspondence, I’ve come to find it very rewarding when I receive a full-fledged email “letter” minus the LOLs, CUL8Rs, and BTWs.
So, who’s right: you and I who communicate with letters, greeting cards, and even person-to-person telephone calls, or the rest of the world with there/their hastily misspelled 5-word message that will just have to pass for a gripping conversation?
I’m willing to concede that we’re both right, because in my mind, as long as communication lines are wide open, I will be happy and genuinely grateful to be on the receiving end of even the most terse message. If I receive a heart emoji text from a younger person as their way of telling me they were thinking of me, I’ll celebrate that I was thought of and that someone took the time to hug me with their equivalent of a piece of personal correspondence.
I guess what I’m saying is, writing can mean whatever you want it to mean – as long as you don’t forget me – or your loved ones – in the process. This post assembles 26 different letters placed together to make some sort of sense to the reader, and to make some sort of difference in the lives of those who have an opportunity to read it. It would be difficult for me to write this post if I was limited in the manner in which I tried to communicate with you, but, if need be, I guess I would figure out how to work within those limits just so you and I could keep the lines of communication open.
THE BOTTOM LINE: I don’t want to lose touch with those about whom I care deeply, and if being in touch with them means text messages or emojis between us? Count me in.
Elemental Truths Behind Behavior
When there is spoiling in the world – whether found in the air, the ground itself, the water, or in the destructive power of fire – quality of life is seriously reduced in the spoiling.
There are other ways to spoil the world, however; spoiling that occurs as a result of words spoken or not spoken; of kindnesses withheld and cruelties expended. Just like earth’s elements, words and actions can cause grievous harm – or they can heal.
Earth. Fire. Air. Water. My research on these four elements revealed an interesting outcome: all four elements have the power to cleanse.
Additionally, the following qualities are attributed to these elements:
- Earth: order, structure, and stability.
- Fire: warmth, transformation, and the enabling of life.
- Water: healing and regeneration.
- Air: communication, intelligence, and harmony.
The world seems to have experienced a serious reduction in the level of qualities attributed to these elements. The unfortunate divisions that have always separated us appear to have widened and deepened, fueling a battle that should have never been raged.
We are not charged with making the entire world a better place in which to live – each of us need only attend to our miniscule corner of the world to accomplish such a task. It is my hope that the words we choose and the actions we take bring about a much-needed purification of this Earth, which leads me to this challenge for me and for you:
Do all the good that you can, in all the places you can, in all the ways that you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, for as long as you can. – John Wesley
Important Words That Start With “C”
This is me in a nutshell: I tend to major on the minor and make mountains out of mole hills. Feel a slight twinge in my back? Oh no, my back is totally messed up! Detect an unverified slight from a friend? Darn, what have I said or not said that has caused this perceived rift between us? Let me tell you, I’m working on better handling these types of incidents, but please know I have yet to excel at doing so.
On a more positive note, I love this word and all that it means according to the Oxford dictionary: a feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. I would like to say, however, that this definition does not need to be limited to having identical characteristics with everyone with whom we come in contact, rather, that we are like-minded enough to want the best for others…kind of a Golden Rule way of living.
Many of us will find ourselves in the role of a caregiver, just as I did for my father who died from Alzheimer’s disease in 2007. Regardless of the malady, this is a role for which few are prepared: a learn-as-you-go experience filled with failed attempts and far too few successes. I wrote a novel about my family’s dementia experience, Requiem for the Status Quo. Doing so was my way of trying to benefit others who might find themselves in a similar caregiving role.
Dealing with a difficult situation is not something all of us do handily, nor should we have to. Countless times I have come through troubling times because of the assistance of others. Having been on the receiving end of such generosity, I endeavor to extend similar generosity to others. This suggests one of my previous C-words, community, that certainly has within its purview the act of reaching out to others to meet their needs.
Oh my, a guilty conscience is something all of us have experienced in our lives, and not necessarily brought about by laws or rules that have been broken. Rather, speaking for myself, my conscience has been pricked because I failed to meet a need I could have easily fulfilled caused by an act of selfishness on my part. There are countless examples I could recount but rather than paint a picture of me being a horrible person – as opposed to being a normal person with selfish tendencies – I will just say that when our gut tells us we’ve been less than giving to others, if we pay attention, we will no doubt find countless opportunities to make up for that oversight.
My goodness, I sense a trend in my selection of C-words, but I guess I’ll just go with it. Being careful not to cause inconvenience or hurt to others certainly sounds like a worthy goal in one’s day-to-day life. I want to believe that none of us are inconsiderate on purpose but, as referenced in my expository paragraph on the conscience, we’ve all missed the mark from time to time. For example, we’ve all been hurt by others, and although our knee-jerk reaction may be to inflict similar harm back at the offending person, doing so won’t make us feel better (well, maybe for just a few minutes or so) but any long-lasting benefit will be fleeting. Better yet to balance out the scales by turning the other cheek which may not have an effect on the offender but will most definitely affect the person choosing to turn their cheek.
I want to close out this discussion by incorporating the aforementioned six words into this final paragraph: When life gets us down, we can catastrophize or we can search for the fellowship found in community that many, especially the downtrodden family caregiver, could use in order to better cope with the stresses faced by individuals on this planet. When our conscience is eased after soulful moments that leave us more considerate than not, perhaps we’ll exercise self-compassion by giving ourselves a cuddle wrapped up in forgiveness for our shortcomings.
In the history of mankind, no one has been proved perfect in every thought, word, and deed, so be kind to yourself. After all, you’re only human and I assure you, you are in very good company.
Better Today Than Yesterday
A handcrafted multi-colored rug in a marketplace is a completed work of art – a masterpiece if you will – but the work-in-progress is certainly a far cry from any semblance of cohesive beauty. But it is still a beautiful piece of art.
These rugs provide a multifaceted mingling of colors and textures that make a complete design, however the intricacies when not presented as a whole might be anything but worthwhile viewing. It’s kind of like Claude Monet’s painting, Water Lilies, that when viewed up close so that the minutiae stand out, represents only a nearsighted view of the artist’s intended project. However, when we stand back from the artwork – whether a painting or a handcrafted rug – we see the bigger picture that represents the whole.
I like to view the marketplace rug as a representation of the world’s diverse humanity: the elements of race and ethnicity, as well as physical elements and personalities of the global community that paints a more complete and accurate composition. It seems to me that without the diversity of colors, textures, and design, the final product would lack depth and luster.
Taking this thought further, the backside of the rug may not look all that presentable, what with the rough knots and perhaps the multitude of mistakes that are covered up so that the finished product will render itself pleasing to the eye.
I think of all the rough edges of my life that I have needed to smooth out and the mistakes that I have needed to correct so that I could present a life that was not only pleasing to the eye, but one that would benefit others and leave them better than when I first encountered them. I have definitely messed up in my almost seventy years of life, but I have always endeavored to be a beneficial contributor to the good of others.
In that sense, I don’t see myself as a work-in-progress, rather, I am a progressively better representation of who I am, whether viewed up close, or from afar. A closeup of my life’s minutiae may be shockingly out of focus, but the bigger picture will hopefully render my life as it is meant to be.
A Novel about Family
Although this book’s subject matter focuses on caring for family members with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, it is also a story about the way we address the challenges in our lives, and how resilient we truly are when doing so.
I was my father’s primary caregiver during his transition from this life to the next. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. This novel spotlights my experiences.
Good Wins Out
The bad do not win – not finally, no matter how loud they are. We simply would not be here if that were so. You are made, fundamentally, from the good. With this knowledge, you never march alone. You are the breaking news of the century. You are the good who has come forward through it all, even if so many days feel otherwise.
Alberto Rios, from A House Called Tomorrow
I believe this statement to be true; believing otherwise would not serve me well. Be well. Stay well. You’ve got this people.
Good News is Everywhere!
I think we can all agree that we’re surrounded by bad news stories. We need not look any further than a pop-up notification on our phones to catch Breaking or Headline news that is rarely good.
As I have stated in previous stories, including this post written this past October, it’s so very important to make note of even the smallest of victories that come our way. Here are a few small, and not so small, incidents I had the privilege to celebrate this past week.
- A close family member got the ideal job for the household’s circumstances.
- My local NFL team made it to the playoffs!
- I received encouraging news about a health condition I have battled for the past couple years.
- I was gifted with a very comfortable pair of warm slippers that I really, really needed to keep my tootsies warm…tootsies that get alarmingly cold and painful due to a health condition that is not related to the point directly above.
- Despite all the wind and rain we have had in my part of Washington state, we did not lose power this week.
- While shopping at a grocery store with the word Whole in its title, there were no plastic produce bags to be found. A professional shopper filling her order saw my dilemma and gave me the 2 plastic produce bags I needed.
- A snack our household enjoys that has been missing from grocery shelves for a couple months has returned. See! It doesn’t have to be something major to be good news!
Majoring on the “minors” is a great way of being when those minors are positive happenings in our lives. And they’re important! Why? Because the more good we acknowledge the less yucky the bad stuff will seem to be.
Don’t let the bad stuff get you down. Being open to the many positive happenings around you is a good way to start.
Spoken and Unspoken: Words Matter
- Words said in anger and without consideration of others matter.
- Withheld words that would have provided encouragement and affirmation certainly matter.
- Unloving words that we say to ourselves – berating, judging, unkind – matter a great deal.
Words matter: they always have, they always will. Choose your words wisely.
Here Comes the Good Stuff!
The best is yet to come, right? I mean, why not? Rather than expect the worst and have that expectation met, how about expecting the best and be equally as astonished that the best is gifted to you at some point in 2023 – maybe at several points in 2023. It’s kind of like the sentiment: Those who think they can and those who think they can’t are both right.
Expect the best, y’all.
That’s what I’m gonna do.
Be Kind to Yourself
Being kind to yourself is most definitely a serious matter. You deserve to be treated with the same gentleness you would treat others for whom you care.
If the Holidays have gotten to you, do what is needed to bring some calm and control back into your life, even if that means disappointing others. Again, you matter just as much as those you might have to disappoint, so I would advise you to try a little kindness toward yourself, a kindness you so very much deserve.
And if you’re doing absolutely well right now and can exercise some outward gentleness, check in on individuals who might need a reminder that they matter and that someone was thinking of them. You don’t have to make a huge effort – especially if doing so depletes your own reserves – but a phone call, a text, or a hello in passing – could mean the difference between making their day and not.
Do what you can, and start with yourself.
Inexpensive Holiday Gifts
I know you’re busy, and this Holiday season has perhaps caught you unawares, so here are two inexpensive book gifts that make the gift giving so very, very easy. If you purchase the eBook version, an email is easily sent to the recipient so they can claim their book, right when you want them to!
Requiem for the Status Quo is a novel that celebrates the lives of caregivers of family members with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.
A Jagged Journey is a story about a diverse group of perfectly imperfect people. If you know someone who is imperfect, or perhaps you yourself are among the rest of us who are still trying to figure life out, this book is a perfect addition to ones’ bookshelf.
Don’t Worry. Be Happy!
Whether it’s because the Holidays are fast-approaching, or we’re relocating to a different area, or we are faced with a life stressor that threatens life, limb, and sanity, we are oftentimes encouraged to stay calm and relax. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!!
Being on the receiving end of such an admonition is not a welcome moment, to be sure. “Try being in my women’s size 12 shoes and say that again! You have no authority here.” Boy can I relate. Given an opportunity to break down that comment, however, I might eventually get to the point of being able to at least realize that if I were to take a few deep breaths I would feel slightly better as a result.
I fully understand the impetus behind someone telling us not to worry. Certainly I have said the same thing to someone in need and I absolutely meant it. But staying calm is not an easy venture, is it? But boy oh boy is it called for.
I react and I overreact – just ask my husband. You know what they say about teaching old dogs new tricks? Well, I’ve been trying to learn the calming lesson/trick for quite some time now. The more I overreact and discover later that such a reaction was not needed, I get that much closer to learning a lesson that will most definitely help my well-being. When an overreaction takes place, the fight or flight response gets set into motion which sets in motion bodily anomalies that never do the body good: accelerated heart rate, increased pain where pain might already exist, and if you’re me, the gastric juices start churning and a sour stomach ensues.
Being able to witness time and time again that things most of the time turn out okay, that most disasters are readily avoided, and life goes on regardless of any perceived evidence to the contrary, then we can settle down and carry on. But if you’re at all like me, you will need to administer compassion and loving kindness toward yourself to attain such a state of well-being.
I hope you succeed in doing so, as much as I hope to do so myself.
Our 91 year old neighbor, Betty, was taken to a local hospital by my friend/neighbor who lives across the street from her. Betty had medical symptoms that needed attention for a few nights in the hospital, but she is now back home.
Many of us nearby are very familiar with Betty who energetically walks her dog, Teddy, through the hilly streets of our very rural neighborhood outside of Seattle. This neighbor does not have the best hearing so oftentimes, when having a street side conversation with her, everyone can hear of which we speak several houses away.
However, that’s not important. What is important is that all of us younger neighbors – I’m a mere 69 yo – leaped into action to make sure she was getting the attention she needed at the hospital. Betty has no living family – one of the hazards of living a long life, I guess. She lives in a mother-in-law suite in a house owned by a lovely couple. They were on point with Betty at the hospital and my friend/neighbor who lives across the street from Betty talked to her by phone daily – passing along greetings from people such as myself, as well as from those who are emotionally connected with her.
During one such call, my neighbor told her that I and other neighbors had asked about her. Did that make Betty’s day? You bet it did. Just knowing people care does a body good. No one wants to be or feel invisible, and sometimes the elderly do fall into that unfortunate category. Betty is not invisible, she has actively engaged with her neighbors for many years, but there are those of a certain age and in other populations who do fall between the cracks. We did not let our elderly neighbor fade into invisibleness.
One thing that never changes. People. And how people love to connect with other people. We are built for community. The only way to tackle momentous challenges is together. From the novel LET IT SNOW, by Beth Moran
Book Gift Ideas
I am a published author of two books: Requiem for the Status Quo and A Jagged Journey.
I wrote Requiem to share my family’s Alzheimer’s caregiving experiences with those who might benefit from those experiences. I chose the fiction genre, not memoir, so that along with our family’s actual episodes, I could include those from other families’ lives to represent a well-rounded representation of the highs and lows of the family caregiving journey.
I was my father’s primary long-distance caregiver – caregiving that I carried out in person numerous times for several years at his southern Oregon memory care community, and daily from my home in the Seattle, Washington area. Additionally, as an Alzheimer’s Association support group facilitator and a State long term care ombudsman, I met many family caregiver heroes who I believed deserved to have their stories told.
Journey is a different kind of novel, one that spotlights the challenges of being a fallible human being in a world where what we believe might change from time to time – oftentimes for the better. But the not-so-good changes also exist, because as humans we don’t always get it right. Fortunately, lessons can be learned nonetheless.
But why should you purchase either of these books? Although I believe in my work as a writer, I am painfully aware that readers have millions of titles from which to choose, but I sincerely believe you will be glad that you chose mine as a Holiday gift for yourself or for others. And if by chance you aren’t interested in my novels, please pass this post along to someone who might be. Be well. Stay well, y’all.
Is Daily Gratitude Possible?
I am well aware that it’s extremely difficult to be grateful for anything or anyone when times are tough: illness, financial downturn, emotional turmoil and the like.
At those times, it takes a grand effort to make the decision to find just one thing a day for which to be grateful. JUST ONE THING!!
And once that decision is made, it takes lots of practice to get in the habit of doing so day, after day, after day.
But even the smallest of reasons to smile are worth the effort:
- improved sleep or wellness
- a break in the weather
- a food item that awakens our taste buds
- a stranger’s smile or greeting
- a flower
When we start to feel better about the way things are going, we might decide to spread some of that “feel-betteryness” to others with our own unexpected smile, greeting, or other kindness.
I have found that it is really worth the effort – both for the giver, and the person on the receiving end.
JUST A THOUGHT WORTH CONSIDERING.
The Brain Sometimes Misses the Mark
Don’t get me wrong, I am deeply indebted to my brain for guiding me through sixty-nine years of life thus far. My organs are reliant on it to do their “organic” part to keep me alive.
BUT THE BRAIN DOES INDEED GET IT WRONG SOMETIMES.
Way back when, the brain really needed to activate its fight-or-flight response so that we could sense a beast’s approach and be able to avoid it or defend ourselves. We still very much need that heightened response in our tool chest but I dare say that such a tool is rarely required.
But let’s get away from beasts and tools. What about the conditioned response to daily mundane elements of our lives, such as eating? I live in the Pacific Northwest where Daylight Saving Time ended a few days ago. The clocks in the house had to be set back one hour, which I diligently accomplished this year as in previous years. BUT, the clock in my husband’s workshop is his responsibility and it did not get changed
The day after Daylight Saving Time ended, my husband came into the house at 11 am and set forth making his lunch. I was in my home office at the time and was astounded that he was eating lunch so early because his normal lunchtime usually falls between noon and one o’clock. I eventually wandered into the kitchen/family room area where my husband was now chowing down on the sandwich he had just made. “Wow, you’re sure eating lunch early today.”
He looked at the family room clock only to discover that it was just 11:15 am. “Oops! I forgot to turn my shop clock back and thought it was noon” to which I responded, “Nope! Your brain tricked you into thinking you were hungry!” The brain has a keen way of doing that…tricking us.
The brain more or less always tricks me into thinking that the aches and pains I experience are far more than the mundane events they are. Read one of my recent posts that addresses that aspect of my brain’s tomfoolery. I tend to catastrophize these types of sensations because in my past experience, I have indeed had a couple acute medical situations so my brain is not going to sit back and let such emergent conditions harm me in any way.
BUT MY BRAIN GETS CARRIED AWAY FAR TOO OFTEN AND INITIATES A FEAR RESPONSE THAT SENDS ME INTO AN UNWARRANTED EMOTIONAL DOWNWARD SPIRAL.
Thank you brain, for caring so much about me that you feel the need to pull out all the stops to keep me safe, but you seriously need to calm down and get out of the driver’s seat and enjoy the ride of being a passenger in a body that’s just trying to practice daily common sense. Sometimes a cramp is just a cramp, a back ache is just a sixty-nine year old’s back speaking up, and a sour stomach is just the result of unwise food choices…nothing more, nothing less. I respect and admire all that you do, but feel free to take a few steps back and let’s let bygones be bygones.
Finding the Good in the Not-So-Good
In keeping with my most recent post about partying, I just have to tell you a very brief story about something I had the opportunity to celebrate the other day:
I had a horrible night’s sleep!!!
Why is that worthy of a celebration? Let me tell you.
Each of us has our stories of either not being able to readily fall asleep and/or falling asleep but waking up a few hours later and not being able to fall back to sleep, thereby starting ones’ day at an absolutely ungodly hour. I have experienced both, but the first sleep malady has not been an issue for me for many, many months. That was my first reason to celebrate.
My sleep routine always involves listening to a positive, 20-minute guided meditation wherein I usually fall asleep half way through. But the other night, four meditations later, I still hadn’t attained slumber. I tossed and turned, getting frustrated by my inability to sleep, totally disregarding the sleep hygiene advice every sleep expert gives: get out of bed, go elsewhere in your home and read or do something other than counting down the number of hours remaining before your day has to begin. If you stay stuck in bed, you’re also stuck in the anxiety-laden arena of non-sleep where just wishing you’ll eventually fall asleep simply does not work. Why? Because that’s all you’re thinking about and what you pay attention to will only grow.
After a period of three hours of non-sleep, I finally got out of bed and went elsewhere in my home to read thereby changing the scenery and giving my mind something else to concentrate on. I was no longer not sleeping in my comfortable bed, I was reading a book as though doing so was the most perfectly normal thing to be doing at two o’clock in the morning. Climbing back into bed an hour later, I managed to catch a few hours of sleep. That was the second reason to celebrate.
But that’s not all! I actually had three reasons to celebrate as a result of that yucky night’s sleep: I also successfully made it through the day-after, without too much struggle!
Mind you, I’m retired and therefore didn’t have to be super diligent during the day-after’s activities: I didn’t have to operate heavy machinery or get up in front of a classroom or a boardroom and string together cohesive sentences for the benefit of others, but I did manage to do some Holiday gift shopping with my husband and plow through a pile of laundry accumulating in our house without damaging anyone in the process.
Yep, all was well, and I lived to tell about it.
It’s Party Time!
Oh my goodness…you know how it is…the first of November creeps up on us and before we know it, all the traditional Holidays of the year are upon us and we’re wondering where the time has gone.
It’s been awhile since I’ve looked forward to Holiday celebrations but this year I’m geared up and ready. Well, not ready as in I’ve got it all figured out and organized, but ready as in I’m very much up for it. Why is that? Well, for me, I am always looking for a reason to celebrate – whether I’m celebrating an actual occasion or just noting a positive improvement of sorts in my daily life.
During my father’s decline from Alzheimer’s disease, I got into the practice of celebrating every small positive element that came my way. I realized early on in my father’s disease process that big reasons to celebrate weren’t always forthcoming so I committed myself to celebrating even the smallest of victories, and there were many! Doing so guaranteed many opportunities to party, rather than just the few and far between grandiose reasons to don the party hats. My first novel, Requiem for the Status Quo, is a reflection of that period in my life where my celebrate-as-often-as-you-can philosophy was born.
This year has had its ups and downs, hasn’t it? I am quite certain I’m not the only person reading this post that saw illness invade the calm of loved ones’ lives; who experienced loss of some sort that left you reeling; or who questioned whether goodness and mercy had become qualities of the past.
As we near the end of the current year, I hope you are privy to more good than bad and that your reasons to celebrate far outnumber those that make you want to hit something…or someone. Finding that renewed focus, that light at the end of the tunnel, might seem more difficult than not, but if you’re able to do so even just one time before the calendar year expires, give it all you’ve got and do your happy dance! Who knows? Your good vibes just might rub off on others!
And if you’re able to make a few thirty second friendships along the way? All the better.
Thirty Second Friendships
I’m the person who waves, but I’m also the person who waves back. I just can’t help myself, especially when a young child is concerned.
Ever since I became a grandmother back in 2017, I can’t resist waving and talking to a youngster while said youngster is accompanied by their parental unit – I’m just so enamored by kiddos. Caveat: prior to attaining grandparenthood, I just couldn’t be bothered, but I am a reformed woman.
But it’s not just the youngsters with whom I engage; I can’t help but engage all age groups in friendly conversation. I crave the connection and I am shameless in my efforts to satisfy that craving.
Maybe you’re among the many who hope beyond all hope that when you encounter the stranger that is me, no conversational effort will be required on your part. Sorry to disappoint you, but if you’re in my sights, I’m reaching out to become your 30-second friend.
BE WELL. STAY WELL, Y’ALL.